Newton le Willows Councillor to face council standards committee over claims of social media misuse and motoring breach

AN INVESTIGATION into the behaviour of a senior St Helens councillor has been conducted following complaints about inappropriate use of social media and breaking motoring regulations.

The Newton le Willows Councillor – cabinet member for green, smart and sustainable borough – was reported for parking his car on double yellow lines on September 6, 2015.

He was also accused of driving his vehicle without a valid MOT between July 10 and September 6 of that year – an offence that can carry a fine of up to £1,000.

Another individual alleges the councillor, 30, made threats and revealed personal information on Facebook and being behind an intimidating phone call.

The Labour councillor, who works as a high school teacher, is expected to respond to these accusations at a standards committee meeting next week, either in person or writing, and committee members will discuss whether he has breached the council’s code of conduct.

In response he has said: “Just because an allegation is made and investigated, doesn’t mean that it has any substance. It’s saddening that people can make such accusations with absolutely no proof.

“I’m sure that the committee will reach a common sense view on the matter based on applying the legal application of the code of conduct”.

“Those who know me and know what I do for the community will have already made up their minds on the matter.”

In council documents relating to the motoring issues, the councillor admits his MOT was invalid for nearly two months but says this was an oversight as he had been busy and unaware it was due for renewal and he later refers to uncertainty over the renewal date due to technical issues with the DVSA website.

The road he was parked on, outside Hope Academy in Newton-le-Willows, was a private road where laws around double yellow lines are not enforceable.

Following the social media accusations, made initially in June 2014, he apologised and wrote to the person concerned indicating that his comments on social media were not intended to come across as threatening and promising not to make such comments in future. He said he would only use Facebook to keep in touch with friends.

In December 2015, the same complainant said the councillor had again revealed personal information about him and alleged that the Councillor may have obtained his phone number and encouraged a third party to make a threatening call in September asking him to withdraw the complaint.

Investigation findings say police confirmed a withheld number had made a call but there was no evidence to link it to the said Councillor.

The Councillor has had his wrist slapped before regarding his use of social media: in January 2015 he was asked to apologise after being accused of using grossly offensive language on Facebook. In March, he said an imposter used his name to make posts on social media.